Category Archives: Trump

geopolitics is hard

globe puzzle

Geopolitics is a symbiotic jigsaw. When one piece seems to fit in place, another pops out. And this puzzle isn’t going to be put together anytime soon. Fuck, we don’t even know what the finished puzzle is supposed to look like. I believe that we’re entering a new era that is changing what that picture will look like and the pieced may have to be rearranged. Whether this era is postcolonialism, I’m not sure, but if we use the past 6 years as a proxy for what will come, I think it’s fair to say that authoritarian powers aren’t going anywhere.

What is happening in Syria is really fucked up. And how Syria got to the state it’s at isn’t a simple path to understand. I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about Syria, and the Middle East, and man, when you’re used to learning about your nation that is only 238 years old, it takes some catching up to learn about the history of a region that covers over 3000 years. And here’s the deal- I don’t know what to think of anything. All I can tell is that neoliberalism is strengthening its hold, and just as what was predicted far before Trump even came into the picture, wars aren’t going to end when there is money to be made.

I’m not sure what can be done. I’m nervous after watching how buddy-buddy Trump was with people like el-Sisi and then learning about how seemingly rash the decision to bomb Syria was. My only hope is that America is too big for an authoritarian ruler- that the democratic system in place will safeguard us from what we witnessed in post-Arab Spring countries and that there are too many of us, including elected officials, and too little of them, ultimately the deep statists. However, if we look at the past, empires that were relatively as big as America have fallen, and that’s pretty depressing to think about.

I don’t know what to do. I know it is probably stupid, but for myself, I have to pray (meditate) for some real macro conscious raising- and that’s at a cognitive and spiritual level. We need to help other people understand why we go to war, how war profiteering works, what the dangers are that can lead the US to an authoritarian regime, and how to tune inward in order to produce more loving kindness in the world. I know, it’s hippie shit, but if I don’t believe that there can be good, then what is the point?

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Why I Went to Trump’s Inauguration, What it Was Like, and What I Learned About Myself.

I’m still trying to process my inauguration day experience. When I was there on Friday, living in it, I didn’t have much time or energy to examine all of the things happening around me. I used all yesterday to compress after returning to Northeastern PA from the inauguration and Woman’s March in DC, and spent the day trying to find peace of mind by watching the first season of Parks and Rec (what a funny show!), yogaing, and eating my weight in Korma Paneer.

So here’s what I experienced at the DC Inauguration:

When I told people that I would be attending the inauguration, most questioned why and what my motives were. I spent time meditating on whether I should attend the inauguration since election day, and the more heated the country became on both sides, the more I felt compelled to attend. Inaugurations are historic days, regardless of who is president, and I’ve never attended one before. My professor gave me and two of my friends permission to miss class to attend, and since Scranton is only about a 4.5 hour drive from D.C., I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go.

So that’s the easy answer to why I went: because I could and it is a historic day. My true, number 1 reason for attending was to promote love and to act as a representative of peace, to represent the ideology that we can communicate with each other even if we think differently, that we can listen to each other, and that true, positive change can happen if it’s governed by an underlying value of love. I expected that there would be a lot of anger and emotion on both sides of the inauguration, and I wanted to show others that it is a possibility to attend to issues with an open heart and mind.

We drove late Thursday night to my friends’ home in Harrisburg where we slept for a few hours. (Shoutout to Mike and Dana for letting us stay at their beautiful home! And to Brendan who let us stay Friday night!) At 5am we embarked to drive the rest of the way to Rockville, Maryland, where we parked the car at the metro station. The Rockville stop on the metro station is one of the last stops on that subway line, which means that it’s one of the furthest stops from capitol where we were headed.  When we got on the train, there was a family of four with a sign that said “need 1 more silver ticket for inauguration”. They looked sad, and even a little pathetic, to me, but now thinking about it in hindsight, they probably were just tired, and I allowed my bias to form an opinion about them. There was another Trump-supporting Baby Boomer couple, who were dressed patriotically, the wife even donning a red, white, and blue scrunchie. I looked directly at them, but they wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I soon would find out that this would be the norm for many of the Trump supporters. Anyways, the train was pretty much empty, and we had our choice of seats.

We got out at Metro Station, in downtown DC, where roads were blocked off all around the Capitol. We walked around for a little while to get our bearings and then decided to make our signs on the steps of a lavish apartment building, on the same block of a checkpoint for people who had tickets to the inauguration. I had some leftover “Stein/Baraka” lawn signs that I brought with me, which turned out to be really durable protest signs, so thanks again, Green Party, for helping me be an advocate. All of our signs promoted love. Mine said “True Change Only Comes from Love”, Kim’s said “Love Trumps Hate”, and Dawn’s read “If It Isn’t Intersectional, it isn’t Feminism”. Throughout the day people told us that we had the right idea, gave us thumbs up, and asked to take pictures of us, which was encouraging, and helped me keep my head up in a place of strong emotions and negativity.

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Me, Dawn, and Kim at the beginning of Inauguration Day.

The first group we came across was where we were making our signs, outside of a security checkpoint for people who had tickets to the inauguration to enter. The Freedom Socialist Party held a demonstration outside of the checkpoint so any Trump supporters who wanted to get into the inauguration would have to pass through them. There were probably 40(?I’m pretty bad with estimating people sizes) people dancing and chanting. I heard later that they also had a gay dance party outside the security checkpoint, so Trump supporters would have to walk through shirtless gay men in glitter and butch women in cargo pants dancing to George Michael. I am OK with this type of demonstration. However, it was during this early morning protest that I saw the only violence of my trip. My group wanted to walk over one block, and the easiest way to do this was to walk through the demonstration and turn the corner. Behind us, a few young, college-aged men, donned in the red hats and dark trench coats, tried to follow in our path. All of a sudden, a bunch of demonstrators started screaming “Shame! Shame! Shame!” in their faces. I’m not one who would protest in this way, but the protesters weren’t really doing anything wrong. The three of us were pushed to to the side, while a police officer helped escort the Trump supporters through the crowd. Then, the cop grasped his hands together in front of him and forcefully, and violently, rammed himself through a group of the protesters, causing a few of them to fall to the pavement hard. This was the only violence I witnessed, and I have to be honest, if I’m truly trying to be objective, it was the Trump supporters who really did nothing wrong in this situation, however they did seem smug when the police officer forcefully pushed people away to get them into the security checkpoint line.

We did see an Antifa group marching and running through the streets with their signs held high shortly after this occurrence in the morning. Antifa appears frightening if you don’t know about them, and I know many on the right and left want them to be labelled as domestic terrorists. They’re a militant left group, and support fear tactics, such as bearing arms while wearing masks that cover their faces. Antifa was the most radical group I saw at the inauguration, and I believe they were the ones who burned the limo in the over-sensationalized “riots” that were depicted on mainstream media and who punched Richard Spenser in the face.

The first mean-spirited thing said to us was right after a reporter from CBS asked to take our picture. A group of well dressed and groomed white, 20-somethings, in red hats, walked by, sniffed the air, and said “smells like hippie” and all laughed while they past us. We received numerous other statements like this throughout the day, all of which were unprovoked. While we stood in the inauguration line, one Trump supporter turned to Kim and asked her if she was a Trump supporter because her sign read “Love Trumps Hate”. Kim calmly replied that she supports love, and wasn’t a Trump supporter. He was condescending towards her, I had to take a few deep breaths and remind myself why I was at the inauguration, in order to not say anything negative to him and his group. I am so proud of us for not giving in to negativity during the inauguration, especially in times I felt threatened.

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Mixed Crowd of Supporters and Protesters Waiting in Inauguration Line

So, yeah, we stood in line to get into the inauguration, even though we didn’t have tickets, simply because we didn’t know where else to go. Almost everyone in line was a protester. There were a few businesses that opened their doors for people to use their bathrooms, and one business even had free hot chocolate and coffee available. It was easy to tell what businesses were protest friendly because they didn’t look any different than their normal state. We didn’t dare try to use the bathrooms in the businesses that were decked out in all things MAGA, which there were a bunch of.

After I watched on my phone Trump’s swearing in, we marched in the Anti-Inauguration March which had demonstrators from all different types of activist groups. It was a sea of people chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”. We were getting hungry and when the march passed by a soup and sandwich shop, we stopped in to grab lunch.There weren’t many people in the restaurant, and we took a much needed rest sitting in the open dining area. Shortly after we started our lunch, the red hatted people started filing in. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little threatened being the minority in that cafe, a smaller version of what the city felt like the whole day, where the anger and hate was palpable. One couple that lunched next to us asked if we were protesting, which we said yes. The woman then gave us a poncho and extra handwarmers she had, and explained that she didn’t need them because they were on their way home after watching their president’s inauguration. She was kind, and it’s this human connection that’s what’s really important. Regardless of political views, she was compassionate towards us, fellow human beings.

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While we were standing in the inauguration line

We did listen to some of the other conversations happening around us in the cafe, in which I heard a table talk about that protesters just are protesting to get their picture taken. I heard some other similar dialogues, but tried to tune and block them out as much as possible. I was happy to leave the lunch place when we did. I felt like easy prey for someone to take their anger out on, and more red hats kept flooding through the doors.

We were able to get in to see the parade, which also was an experience in being the minority. We stood in a checkpoint line for probably an hour, and the vast majority of those in line with us were Trump supporters. We were all connected by a common thread of feeling annoyed towards a man with a megaphone preaching that we were all going to burn in hell and that doomsday was near.

So, we get through the checkpoint and the protesters have taken over a large area. No red hats, but also no room to really move or see the parade. We walked a few blocks over to where the crowd was thinning, but was also turning redder. There was an open space where we could kind of see the parade, however it was standing under a big group of Trump supporters who were standing on a ledge, about two feet higher than us. They were basically hovering over us, and I was waiting to get spit on. It was hard to ignore the “Blue Lives Matter” chant when the police marched by. I wanted so badly to turn around and say, “BLM isn’t about devaluing others lives!” but I bit my tongue, and continued to watch the parade.

When Trump drove by, we could only see his and Melania’s silhouette waving through the black tinted windows. It was at this point, when the crowd around us was screaming in excitement and adoration, that I felt real resentment towards Trump. He couldn’t even roll down his window to wave at his supporters. What a fucking coward.

We walked over to K and 14th Street where the “riots” happened. We could smell tear gas when we approached. We saw the limo that was set on fire and the Bank of America and Starbucks which had their windows broken. I don’t believe in destruction of property, and violence doesn’t solve anything, but people are tired of this wealth disparity! And although I don’t agree with it, I can understand it. The upper class doesn’t know the plight of the underclass, and setting a limo on fire seems like a small rally cry in the context of the enormous unrest.

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Limo that was set on fire, and SUV that was damaged. Also, the glass pane with spray paint there said “We The People”

So out of this whole day, you want to know what really got under my skin the most? It was the rich people walking to the inauguration balls around sunset, dripping in diamond jewelry and smuggly fitted tailored tuxes. They would not look at us. I tried smiling at them, but they refused to make eye contact. I don’t know if it was because they sincerely believe that they are the ones that make America great and can’t see us, or if they are afraid of us- maybe their fear of all the protesters has blocked their ability to assign humanity to any of us, regardless of motivation. Or, maybe, they really don’t care about anyone but themselves. I have never felt so small, so less-than, compared to a group than I did walking by these people. But then, after thinking about this the past few days- maybe they really do fear me, the protester, the other. And if this is the case, then I have some strength and influence over them, because I am NOT afraid of them. And that’s pretty empowering and gives me a glimpse of greater hope for the future of our country.

 

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wtf just happened?

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President-Elect Donald J. Trump. Fucking gag me.

We’ll that was a surprise. I, with the rest of the majority of the country, was in shock late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. How could Trump win the presidency? This isn’t what was supposed to happen. I didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton, but I assumed, because the media told me so, that Clinton would be the victor. What a major underestimate that was.

So why did Clinton lose? Blaming people who voted third party, like myself, isn’t the reason why Trump was elected. I wasn’t going to vote for Clinton or Trump, no matter what. I just couldn’t. I wouldn’t have felt good about my choice. As much as you couldn’t vote for Trump, I couldn’t vote for Clinton. So let go of that blame you have towards people who voted different than you.

My hypothesis of why Trump was winning in battleground states on Tuesday night was low voter turn-out. What else could explain how the polls were so wrong? Turns out I was right, which is a rarity, so I’d like to share these numbers with you.

Voting Eligible Turnout 2016- ALMOST A RECORD LOW.

25.7%-Trump

25.8%-Clinton

Almost half of eligible voters stayed home. WHOA NELLY. (These numbers are from the NPR Political Podcast, which I’ve embedded below)

So can we stop blaming the third parties and take a real look at the Clinton campaign? I know it’s hard to hear, especially when you were so passionate about your candidate. But I implore you, did you do everything that you could do to get Clinton elected? Did you go door to door? Did you make phone calls? Did you help plan rallies? If you did, good! I’m sorry that you worked hard for your candidate and this was the turnout! However, I do think there is a systematic apathy in the Clinton campaign. I can tell from

being involved politically in Northeastern PA, that Clinton’s campaign was absent from my life. Only one person knocked on my door- and they came to speak to my finace, who is still a registered democrat. No one from Clinton’s campaign called my phone to see if I would be voting for Clinton, no one came to my house to talk to me personally about whether I was voting, no one reached out to me to see if I would vote for Clinton since I was part of the Demexit over the summer. And if I had to guess, this is partially what caused her the election. Her campaign thought the blue wall was unbreakable which was a folly in the face of apathetic voters who thought they didn’t need to get out and vote for Clinton because she had it in the bag.

Another big problem I had from this campaign was Clinton supporters ostracizing Trump supporters. By making Trump supporters afraid to admit that they were Trump supporters for fear of being called racist or sexist or bigoted or stupid… well that ended any conversation that may have been possible to change their minds and open up their ears to listen to a different perspective. And don’t think for a second that Clinton supporters didn’t make Trump supporters feel as though they were the other. The turnout numbers show that that there had been a much greater number of silent Trump supporters than originally thought, and a reason for this has to be partially due to the combative political climate that Clinton helped create. How much sense does this make: Clinton supporters have been much meaner to me and called me stupid and naive for voting third party than Trump supporters. In fact, no Trump supporter I know said anything negative about me voting for Stein. So… I think that’s something that needs work on over the next four years within the democratic party.

I know that passion can get the best of us and it’s so important to be passionate FOR someone. It gets dangerous when that passion transfers into being AGAINST someone. Its this type of attitude which deepens the divides. 15% of people who said they couldn’t stand Trump voted for him… if this doesn’t show how dangerous a vote against someone can be, then I don’t know what is.

So what happens now that Trump is going to be our president and all three of our branches of government are going to be republican and conservative? Well, we organize. We preserve our freedoms locally in order to have a sturdy foundation to challenge our federal politics. Don’t loose hope that it can’t be done- you just have to get involved! All this energy from the aftermath of the dystopian results on Tuesday needs to be bottled up! Don’t let it dissipate! In the end of 2017, when the ACA is probably going to be repealed, and 22 million people lose their health insurance, remember your passionate energy you have now and stand up!

Wondering how you can actually do something, other than just post shit on facebook? Join local chapters of your party, join organizations like the IWW, get informed about your local ACLU chapter, go to your city council meetings, write your editor, write your congressman, GET INFORMED!

And don’t let fear get the best of you. Fear is crippling. Fear will tell you to not get involved. To only worry. To stay at home. To tell others to stay at home. To blame others. Fear is the leader of all these emotional pulls. Stay present, stay woke, stay positive. Being scared and spreading fear won’t accomplish anything.

If there is any time for revolution, it will be within the next four years. I urge you to take a stance!

Local chapter links to get involved:

Lackawanna County Green Party

NEPA IWW November Meeting

ACLU of PA

Lackawanna County Young Dems

 

NPR Political Podcast on Voter Turnout:

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/501499225/501505068

 

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